The dramatic mountains provide an unforgettable welcome to Lofoten whether you arrive by sea, air or car. Those mountains provide hiking trails galore for incredible views over the other highlights of Lofoten—idyllic fishing villages, unexpected white sand beaches and crystal clear water.
Only the wind and changeable weather provides a hint that you’re in the Norwegian Arctic—at the same latitude as Nunavut in Canada and Murmansk in Russia—and not somewhere much farther south.
Lofotodden National Park
Created in 2019, Norway’s newest national park covers much of the northern coastline and northern parts of Moskenøya, the westernmost main island in the chain.
Rich in unique mountain flora, the area had suffered from overtourism in the years before the pandemic, something the protections and finances of Lofotodden National Park should help to combat in time.
For a great introduction to Lofoten hiking within the national park, the couple hours needed for the Tindstinden hike is time well spent.
At 490 meters (1,607 ft) it’s far from challenging the biggest peaks of Lofoten, but the views across the fishing village Å and lake Ågvatnet make its effort-reward ratio one of the best on the islands.
The small villages Å and Reine are must-sees while in the areas. Photographers will adore the red fisherman’s cabins clinging to the water’s edge and the rugged mountain backdrops.
Much of Å has become the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum, preserving the architecture, culture and lifestyle of a traditional Lofoten fishing village for future generations to enjoy.
The beaches of Lofoten
While the islands are best known for their dramatic mountain landscapes and picturesque villages, they are also home to some of Norway’s best beaches. Many can only be reached on foot, rewarding keen hikers with stretches of sand all to themselves.
Unstad beach is known worldwide as a famous surfing spot and hosts the annual Lofoten Masters, said to be the world’s northernmost such competition. Kvalvika beach is a stunning sight from the short hiking trail required to get there, while Uttakleiv beach draws keen northern lights photographers from all over Europe.
A Lofoten road trip
To fully appreciate the islands, a car really is essential unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Even with a car, you should double the amount of time you think you’ll need.
That’s because around every corner is another tempting trail, coastal road or dramatic mountain view just begging to be explored. Plan a couple overnight stops to truly make the most of this scenic region.
Although it is the largest city in Lofoten, Svolvær is a tiny town by any other measure. Yet it’s an ideal place to start from or even base your whole trip thanks to the well-known hotel chains, supermarkets and restaurants that line the harbor.
Staying in Svolvær doesn’t mean you miss out on nature either. The rugged mountains surrounding the town provide ample hiking opportunities and a scenic backdrop in track direction you look, while local tour companies compete for boat trip business to the nearby Trollfjord, a haven for birdlife.
This stunning fishing village is a short drive or a 30-minute bus trip from Svolvær. The island village is picturesque enough with houses and cabins clinging to colorful coastlines and fishing boats lining the harbor, but throw in the spectacular mountain backdrop and you have something truly special.
Yet another traditional fishing village, Stamsund today is a busier place than its 1,000 population may suggest. Daily calls from the Hurtigruten and Havila coastal ferry service and local cultural groups breathe year-round life into this charming village.
Lofotr Viking Museum
Lofoten was home to one of the northernmost settlements of importance in the Viking Age. The Lofotr Viking Museum features a striking reconstruction of the chieftain’s longhouse, built on the hilltop site where archaeological evidence such a place once stood.
During weekends in the summer, outdoor Viking games and educational activities geared toward children draw in the crowds. On some evenings, actors play the parts of the local chieftain and his wife hosting a Viking feast featuring food, mead and storytelling.